The Dog Who Came In From the Cold

The Dog who Came in from the Cold (Corduroy Mansions, #2)The Dog who Came in from the Cold by Alexander McCall Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As might be expected from the title, Freddie de la Hay, our Pimlico terrier living at Corduroy Mansions, finds himself on loan to MI6 for some espionage work. Fortunately, we know that whatever might befall, all will be well in the end. These characters are beginning to grow on me: Freddie, of course, and his owner William French -having turned 50 he is having a bit of a midlife crisis, especially where romance is concerned – Barbara Ragg, who seems to have found true love with the Scotsman she met in the last book, and escaped from her former lover Rupert, who covets her comfortable home – Berthia, the sensible sister of Terrence Moongrove, whose innocence and gullibility never fails to get him into trouble – Caroline and her “sensitive” friend James – is he gay or isn’t he? – and the mysterious and elusive Yeti. What all of them come to realize at the end is “There’s no place like home.”

Audiobook narrated by Simon Prebble.

Book description: In the elegantly crumbling mansion block in Pimlico called Corduroy Mansions, the comings and goings of the wonderfully motley crew of residents continue apace. A pair of New Age operators has determined that Terence Moongrove’s estate is the cosmologically correct place for their center for cosmological studies. Literary agent Barbara Ragg has decided to represent Autobiography of a Yeti, purportedly dictated to the author by the Abominable Snowman himself. And our small, furry, endlessly surprising canine hero Freddie de la Hay—belonging to failed oenophile William French—has been recruited by MI6 to infiltrate a Russian spy ring. Needless to say, the other denizens of Corduroy Mansions have issues of their own. But all of them will be addressed with the wit and insight into the foibles of the human condition that have become the hallmark of this peerless storyteller.

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The Wild Iris

The Wild IrisThe Wild Iris by Louise Glück
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wanted to like this better than I did. 3 stars is perhaps generous. I felt I was starting to get into the rhythm of it by the second half. The first half seemed to be too heavily focused on anger, depression, and despair. I liked the structure of this, like a song cycle, revolving simultaneously through the year from winter to fall, and through the day from “matins” to “vespers.” There were lines I could identify with here and there as a gardener, but over all I was unmoved by these poems. I only read the whole thing because it was quite short, and I need to make up 4 books to hit my annual goal for the year.

Description: This collection of stunningly beautiful poems encompasses the natural, human, and spiritual realms, and is bound together by the universal themes of time and mortality. With clarity and sureness of craft, Gluck’s poetry questions, explores, and finally celebrates the ordeal of being alive.

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls WilderPrairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 rounded down to 3 stars. There is certainly a lot of detail here for Laura Ingalls Wilder fans, but I found the author to be a very harsh critic of her daughter Rose, portraying her as mentally ill and perhaps sociopathic. Perhaps she was. I found myself disliking her intensely. Whether the author’s grasp of psychology, history, and politics is accurate or not, it is certainly biased. So take this with a large grain of salt. I felt as if Fraser was trying to set fire to everything you think you know about Wilder and the Little House books. I’m no conservative or libertarian but I got tired of her flogging her political views. I think it created a distorted view of the lives of Laura and her family. Having said that, I still found much that was interesting. Just balance this one out with other biographies.

Audio book narrated by Christina Moore.

Book Description: The first comprehensive historical biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the beloved author of the Little House on the Prairie book series. Millions of fans of Little House on the Prairie believe they know Laura Ingalls – the pioneer girl who survived blizzards and near-starvation on the Great Plains, and the woman who wrote the famous autobiographical books. But the true story of her life has never been fully told. Now, drawing on unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries, and land and financial records, Caroline Fraser – the editor of the Library of America edition of the Little House series – masterfully fills in the gaps in Wilder’s biography, setting the record straight regarding charges of ghostwriting that have swirled around the books and uncovering the grown-up story behind the most influential childhood epic of pioneer life. Set against nearly a century of epochal change, from the Homestead Act and the Indian Wars to the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, Wilder’s dramatic life provides a unique perspective on American history and our national mythology of self-reliance. Offering fresh insight and new discoveries about Wilder’s life and times, Prairie Fires is the definitive book about Wilder and her world.